In what could be considered a slap in the face to immigrants all over the country, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office announced that it would be amending its mission statement to remove the phrase “nation of immigrants.”
The current mission statement says:[lborder]
USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.[/lborder]
According to an email sent to staff members and shared with The Intercept, it would be amended to read:[lborder]
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.[/lborder]
The agency’s director, L. Francis Cissna, explained in the email, “I believe this simple, straightforward statement clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and the commitment we have to the American people.”
In the email, Cissna emphasized the major change as being the removal of the word “customers” to refer to those seeking immigration services.[lborder]
What we do at USCIS is so important to our nation, so meaningful to the applicants and petitioners, and the nature of the work is often so complicated, that we should never allow our work to be regarded as a mere production line or even described in business or commercial terms. In particular, referring to applicants and petitioners for immigration benefits, and the beneficiaries of such applications and petitions, as “customers” promotes an institutional culture that emphasizes the ultimate satisfaction of applicants and petitioners, rather than the correct adjudication of such applications and petitions according to the law.
Use of the term leads to the erroneous belief that applicants and petitioners, rather than the American people, are whom we ultimately serve. All applicants and petitioners should, of course, always be treated with the greatest respect and courtesy, but we can’t forget that we serve the American people.[/lborder]
When The Intercept reached out for clarification and explanation about the removal of “nation of immigrants,” the Chief of Media Relations responded, “The statement speaks for itself and clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and commitment we have to the American people.”
USCIS confirmed to Newsweek that the change did not come from the White House and it has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security.
“We cannot separate ‘immigrants’ from ‘Americans’—we are intrinsically linked as children, parents, neighbors, and loved ones,” Human Rights First Director Eleanor Acer told Newsweek. “By seeking to distinguish between the two, the administration is turning its back on our nation’s proud history and engaging in dangerous revisionism.”